Police say victims lost $30K to fraud
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Mar 24, 2014, 15:21
HOPEWELL — The Hopewell Police Department is warning residents to be mindful of construction fraud after police say two men stole thousands of dollars from homeowners.
In one case, a victim paid $27,000 up front, in what was to be one of three installments. In the other cases, the victims paid $1,000 and $2,500.
Randy Garrett, 44, of Leesburg and Gregory Raymer, 55, of Hopewell are wanted on outstanding warrants for felony charges of construction fraud. Garrett is described as a white male, 6 feet tall, 250 pounds, brown eyes with short brown hair. Raymer is described as a white male, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, hazel eyes with short brown hair.
The two men are wanted on a total of three separate incidents in the city, with two incidents involving the same offender.
Police say one of the men was hired to do construction work on a victim’s garage last year. The offender presented a business card with a licensed company listed. Upon further investigation, the victim contacted the business listed on the card and discovered the offender had not worked at the company for a number of years.
The homeowner had paid money for labor and materials for work to be done on his garage. Over the course of six to eight months, the offender would show up at the home, do an hour or so worth of work and then leave. The job on the garage was never completed.
The second incident, which police said involved the same offender and also occurred last year, revolved around similar types of circumstances. The man was hired to complete roof work on the residence. In this instance, the victim paid money for the job up front and the job was never completed, police say.
In the last instance, occurring this year, the victim had received word that the offender had done work in another area of the city and had done a good job and the person was “satisfied” with the work completed. Due to the recommendation from another person, the victim hired the offender to construct an addition on the residence as well as the installation of a garage. A large amount of money for the project paid up front.
Police say the work was never completed. In that period of time the victim did some research on the offender and discovered the offender was not licensed to do construction work.
Captain Gregory Taylor, with the Hopewell Police Department, provided tips so people in the city, and the surrounding areas, will not be subject to similar crimes.
“One of the things when you’re dealing with these contractors is to get good references on prior jobs, just don’t go by hearsay,” Taylor said.
Taylor also said make sure when hiring a person to complete work on a residence, verify the license. He said licenses are given to a business entity, not an individual. There are also resources to verify the status of the license and past disciplinary actions through the board of contractors. That information can be accessed on the web at http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/Boards/Contractors/.
“Before signing any contract you should ask to see the license, check to make sure it has not expired, and the contractor is working within the limits of his license,” Taylor said.
Taylor also indicated that while this type of crime fluctuates during this time of year, there has been an increase in this type of crime from the same time last year.
Both men are wanted on felony charges of construction fraud and are facing jail time due to the monetary value in each case.
“Beware of them saying they just happened to have material left over from a previous job, pressures you to make immediate decisions, asks you to pay for the entire job up front, only accepts cash payments, asks you to obtain the required permits,” Taylor said. “Don’t let payments get ahead of the work and don’t pay 100 percent of the bill until the work is 100 percent completed and include a payment schedule in the written contract.”
If you know where Randy L. Garrett or Gregory Raymer are located, contact the Hopewell Police Department at 804-541-2222. The Hopewell Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit continues to investigate this matter and is following up on viable leads. The department is requesting that anyone who may have been a victim of construction fraud by these two men or others to contact Master Detective Rick Hartman of the Hopewell Police Department at 804-541-2284.